On February 12 one troubled teenage boy ended the life of another with two shots to the head. Lawrence King, 15, paid the ultimate price for being effeminate and gay. Did you help pull the trigger?
According to the Los Angeles Times
The anti-gay taunts and slurs that Larry endured from his male peers apparently had been constant, as routine for him as math lessons and recess bells. The stinging words were isolating.
The shots came from a gun in the hands of one of Larry’s tormentors, Brandon McInerney, 14 who spent his youth in a
deeply disturbed homelife. Again according to the Times
His friends say the verbal cruelty persisted
for months, and grew worse after the slightly built Larry pushed back by “flirting” with some of his mockers. One of them was Brandon, who seethed over it, the friends say.
It would be easy to look at the troubled lives of these teens, deal with the criminality of the murder, and consign the entire tragedy to the dustbin of “yet another teen is killed.” America is in the midst of an epidemic of youth murders, from school shootings to gang warfare. Never before have our youth been so at risk.
Larry’s death, however, draws us to look at the apparent reason for Brandon’s horrible act – his inability to tolerate the existence of an effeminate gay boy. It doesn’t take a great deal of speculation to wonder where that intolerance came from.
When Fred Phelps wanders the country inflaming hatred toward gays, when the Republican candidate for President embraces that homophobic rantings of televangelist John Hagee, when attempts to teach tolerance of gays in public schools are met with sloganeering and hatemongering by religious fanatics, it is no wonder that Brandon thought it entirely proper to kill Larry.
Most who will read this will exempt themselves as tolerant and even advocates of gay rights. Good for you. But for a large portion of even quietly tolerant Americans, the blood of Larry stains your hands as well.
The attitudes of most of us are changing about gay issues yet there is more to go than has been travelled so far. Look at your own attitudes about an effeminate boy or masculine girl. How often do you let the “faggot” slurs and jokes slide without comment? Would you be thankful if your child came to you with the revelation that they were gay?
As a gay man I am not looking for tolerance and I am asking for more than equality. I say unless each person, regardless of their nature or personal characteristics is able to express themselves without fear of taunting, ridicule or death, the American dream is unfulfilled.
Unless you act to question those who marginalize the Larry Kings of your world, the girls and women who dare to be “butch” and refuse to fit into a narrow definition of gender, then I say you are helping to pull the trigger just as surely as if you stood behind the Brandons of the world.